"A Sexy Suspect"
Ryan Phillippe has proven to be more than just a pretty face. His early hits in teen films like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Cruel Intentions have transisted into more mature fare in films like Crash, Flags Of Our Fathers, Stop-Loss, and MacGruber Now the 36 year-old actor puts his good looks to the ultimate test in the drama The Lincoln Lawyer, in the sense he plays his most ruthless character to date.
“Louis Roulet, who’s kind of a privileged Beverly Hills playboy from a powerful real estate family, if there is such a thing, if it sounds absurd,” Phillippe describes of him, “And he’s a guy who has this attitude of entitlement and the belief, falsely, that he can get away with murder.”
Phillippe says however that it’s not just his good looks that make Louis more than complex than average criminal.
“I think if you see the trailer or the commercials, you know that I’m not a good dude in this movie,” Ryan says, “And once that’s revealed, there’s so many twists and turns to be on it that I don’t think it deflates the impact. But there’s something interesting about the psychology of the serial killer who kind of wants to be caught, who leaves clues, who kind of leads on the police, law enforcement.”
“And that’s one of the things, when Roulet is so anxious to take the stand in his own defense,” he adds, “He’s so adamant that the case go to trial. A guilty person would typically want to avoid those things, but there’s something he gets off on about that. There’s something about that excites him. That game, that toying with the rest of the people.”
Ryan was asked whether he auditioned for the role or not.
“I’m at the stage in my career where at times, things are directly offered to me,” Phillippe answers, “But with this movie, because a lot of the film is so dependent on the
"A Sexy Suspect"
“I definitely was there trying to get the job because the other thing, too, is things skew so commercially now in our industry, now that everything’s a sequel and in 3D and explosions,” he continues, “And when something this substantial comes along, you get much more excited. This type of story is the reason why I became an actor and there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of these movies made anymore.”
The Lincoln Lawyer was originally based on the novel by Michael Connelly. Phillippe says he became a fan of Connelly after reading the novel for the film.
“I’ve actually never read any of his work. I tend to read more non-fictional, autobiographical stuff,” he says, “But once I got the job, I read The Lincoln Lawyer and became a huge Michael Connelly fan. In fact, he has a book The Poet that I’d love to option and star in myself and he’s such a cool guy.”
“And one of the great payoffs about the way the film turned out is Michael Connelly absolutely loves it,” Ryan adds. “He thinks it’s so faithful to his work. Of course, there’s omissions and you have to condense certain things in an adaptation, but he’s very happy with the way that it turned out and that’s rewarding for us, I think.”
Ryan says that Louis’s rather uncouth and violent nature will make the character the most repulsive he’s ever played for not only female fans of his films, but himself.
“The most difficult scenes or the biggest challenge is I’ve got three sisters, I’ve got a daughter,” he believes, “Violence against women is repugnant and I’m sensitive. I’m extremely sensitive to the
"A Sexy Suspect"
“But the story requires you go there and they were game for it,” Phillippe adds, “A lot of times, stuntwomen want to prove they are tougher than you are, so they make it OK. But beyond that, I got to say, it’s fun to play a bad guy. It’s just very liberating. When you’re the protagonist or the hero, there are rules to that, you have to keep the audience on your side, you have to be relatable. When you’re the villain or the bad guy, all that goes out the window and you can go as extreme or as bizarre as you want and I want to do it again. I love it.”
Phillippe talks about how he had to overcome his inhibitions in a scene where Louis violently throws a girl into a mirror.
“It is so meticulously choreographed, whereas Matthew and I didn’t do much rehearsal of the scenes that we have together,” Ryan says, “It is crucial to over-rehearse those, because people get injured on film sets all the time. There’s definite potential there. And so, make sure you get as comfortable as possible and the fight scenes have to be precise. The margin for error in there is slight.”
Ryan talks about how being around all the different facets of Los Angeles provided great research for the role of the film.
“Oh, it is, absolutely,” Phillippe says, “You see these personalities all around L.A. Entertainment industry aside, you see people just born with that silver spoon in their mouth. They’ve been enabled by their parents to carry on however they choose without ramification and that’s so far from how I grew up. I grew up lower middle class, my parents struggled
"A Sexy Suspect"
“And I think maybe I was slightly envious growing up,” he adds, “I had to work to buy my first Hyundai at 16 years old, when these kids get an M series given to them on their 16th birthday. And the further away from myself that I get with any part, the more I enjoy the work, the more connected, the more excited I am to play this part.”
Phillippe talks about his co-star Matthew McConaughey, who plays the film’s main character, a slick lawyer who works out of his car named Mickey Haller.
“He was great, man,” he says, “I feel like this is maybe the best or most intense work of his career and so to see him go there and to see the focus that he had to go to that end was exciting. And as a dude, he was just really authentic, what you see is what you get. He’s a genuine guy.”
“I love how involved in his charity he is, how important that it is to him,” Ryan continues, “It’s fun to see him really kind of embrace the role of being a father. I’ve been a dad for over a decade now and it’s kind of new for him, so it was sweet and it reminded me of those early days. And he’s just a solid guy and I thought we had good dude chemistry together, but it works.”
Ryan was asked if it was true that McConaughey never likes to rehearse his scenes.
“I don’t either and having worked with Eastwood, who does no rehearsal, I think there’s a lot of sense,” he replies, “I think you retain the vitality or the potential vitality of any scene by not beating it to death. Artifice comes
"A Sexy Suspect"
“The fact that these two characters are engaged in this game of manipulation and this psychological chess match, we wanted to surprise each other and we wanted to surprise each other and catch each other off guard at moments,” Phillippe adds, “I don’t know if it was directly Matthew’s idea, it may have been. I know that Brad [Furman[, the director, went along with it and that was very appealing to me.”
One particular scene he felt was noteworthy was a scene where bikers are fighting, involving a character played by country singer and actor Trace Adkins.
“That Trace Adkins is a big dude,” Ryan says, “Just a massive man, like WWE massive man, but he’s a sweetheart underneath.”
Ryan also talks about the two sides of L.A. depicted in The Lincoln Lawyer and which side appeals more to him.
“Well, I’m from the East Coast and I kind of grew up more in city settings, so there’s something really appealing to me about being downtown,” Phillippe says, “I never really spent that much time there to be honest before we were shooting this movie and we shot downtown almost everyday. I love the fact that L.A. has been a character in so many films and is very much one in this film, but you’re seeing it from a completely different perspective.”
“Even, literally, Mick Haller lives in Lincoln Heights,” he continues, “He’s looking at downtown L.A. from the eastern side of it and we’re not seeing it from the palm-tree-lined streets in Malibu. It’s just that kind of gritty underbelly, the more authentic L.A. The majority of its citizens don’t live in L.A., so I think there’s something interesting about that.”
Phillippe says the film won’t be the only one coming out this year as he has one coming out right on its heels next month.
“It’s going to premiere at Tribeca
"A Sexy Suspect"
“We shot it in Johannesburg,” he adds, “I play Greg Marinovich, who’s one of the two authors of the actual book and he’s still around and he’s now moved into anthropological photography, but Joao Silva, who’s the other one that’s still alive is a New York Times combat photographer for Afghanistan and Iraq and he recently stepped on a land mine and lost his legs.”
Ryan talked about how it felt shooting The Bang Bang Club right in Johannesburg.
“It’s unbelievable,” he says of it, “Not only to see the growth, because I had been there in 1995 when apartheid still existed, so to go back there fifteen years later, it was magical to see what the country now has. And also, South Africa gets under your skin. It just does. I want to take my kids back there. It kind of finds a place in your heart if you let it, I think.”
Phillippe also notes that acting isn’t the only thing he is doing these days, as he also runs a production company called Lucid Films with David E. Segal and fellow actors Seth Green and Breckin Meyer.
“I sold a series to Showtime that I’m a creator and executive producer on and I’m writing a little bit on that,” he reveals, “It’s called Heavy And Rolling and it’s about a town car driver in Manhattan. It’s like a dark comedy
"A Sexy Suspect"
“I’ve been in this business a long time relative to my age,” Ryan says, “I had the benefit of working with [Robert] Altman, [Clint] Eastwood, Ridley Scott. I’m ready to kind of put some of that knowledge to use in a broader fashion, so I’m really kind of phasing into behind the scenes work a little bit more.”